iTunes needs to become a cloud app

iTunes needs to become a cloud app

Summary: I've been spending more and more time with my new Android phone, it's becoming clear that Apple is woefully behind in one key aspect: the App Store.

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TOPICS: Apple, Mobility
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It's becoming more and more obvious that Apple is getting ready for its next step trying to hold onto global domination. There's a big iPhone event coming on September 10, and, of course, iOS 7 is around the corner.

Our early hands-on with iOS 7 even shows that the refreshed OS isn't half bad.

Even so, as I've been spending more and more time with my new Android phone, it's becoming clear that Apple is woefully behind in one key aspect: the App Store.

If you use Google Play for Android, you begin to understand what an app store experience should be. Sure, it's an app on the phone or the tablet.

But the real power is in the Web experience that is both rich and comprehensive -- and, more to the point, it allows you to manage your apps from a large-screen Web interface. You can buy apps online, you can install them online, and you can review and manage them online.

iTunes doesn't offer this. iTunes requires the installation of an almost universally hated, bloated application that bogs down PCs and incessantly annoys Mac users. On my OS X Server, iTunes constantly launches on its own even though no mobile device has ever been connected to it.

UPDATE: I've noticed that some commenters are confused about whether I mean a downloadable app that you can get from the cloud vs. a Web site that runs in the cloud. I mean that iTunes should cease to exist as a PC or Macintosh application and you should be able to do what iTunes does on those platforms, but using your Web browser. Go to the Google Play Store Web site, and you'll see what I mean.

It doesn't make sense that Apple is even continuing to maintain the PC and Mac application. At this point in time, it's far more effective for them to build one highly responsive AJAX-based application for the Web and ditch all the issues of installing, distributing, updating, and trouble-shooting a PC and Mac-based install.

More to the point, that's where everyone else is going. If Apple updates their devices in September, updates their OS, but leaves iTunes pretty much the way it was back in 2001, then the Apple experience will continue to feel far more dated than anything their competitors are offering.

Topics: Apple, Mobility

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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40 comments
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  • So you want iTunes to be what it already is??

    Or are you another typical didiot who thinks that "cloud" means something different than what it really is?
    wackoae
    • Did you read the article?

      He's talking about the APP being in the cloud, instead of there being native apps for OS X and Windows.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Maybe you should learn the definition of "cloud"

        The app is ALREADY in the "cloud".
        wackoae
        • No it isn't

          The app isn't in the cloud. The songs might be in the cloud, the music, the iOS apps, but you still have to download iTunes to get anything done on the store. It's the opposite of the situation with Android where you can actually buy a song, movie, or app, and have it sent to your device.

          That's a store in the cloud.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Who cares?

            Every iOS device comes with the iTunes store and App store apps. You can't remove them. So you don't need to log into "the cloud" to get apps. In fact, that is pointless.
            itguy10
          • Pointless to you, yes

            But some people find it worth asking for, hence this article.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Re: The app isn't in the cloud.

            You simply do not know what you are talking about.

            iTunes is already entirely cloud based, since I believe iOS 5 in 2011.
            You can use an iOS device without any computer with a "local iTunes install".
            If you ever used iTunes recently, you will notice that the app is actually running on Apple's servers and that you are merely having an front-end to it.
            The same can be said about the iOS App Store app -- it is very obvious, and especially noticeable when you are switching stores.

            With iOS based devices, you can do everything on the device. Not only that, but you can also also instruct other devices to automatically (without your intervention) download any apps or media you purchased from the store.

            Sometimes I wonder if you guys really argue based on some knowledge, or just for the argument to go on and ZDNET get more clicks.
            danbi
          • So

            I can buy my apps for my iPad on my laptop and have it sent to my iPad?

            Let me go check.

            Nope.

            How about Breaking Bad? Surely I can buy that online and have it waiting, no need to open iTunes. Let me check.

            Nope.

            He's talking about something you're not even refuting.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Re: So

            For moving files from your laptop to an iOS device I get what you're saying, but why not just purchase the media directly from your iOS device to avoid this?
            Dan_Agnew
          • Here is where you show your ignorance

            I can buy my apps for my iPad on my laptop and have it sent to my iPad?

            The answer is YES YOU CAN. You can buy an app in iTunes then push it to the device. If you actually had a iPhone, iPad or iPod you would know that.
            wackoae
          • I have an iPad

            And I tried to do that on my Macbook Air. I searched for the iTunes store on the search engine, then I went to the site, then I went to go download it and get it sent to my iPad. It told me to view it in the iTunes program.
            Michael Alan Goff
  • Huh?

    I've got a Droid and iOS.

    Both stores are fine - don't tknow what the big deal of being able to browse to a web site and buy apps is? If I'm buying an app for my device, chances are I'm on my device and I'll just open the store from there. The 0-1 time I'm not, I can wait.

    And maybe it's because I use iTunes on the Mac but I don't hate it. It does its job quite well.
    itguy10
    • I agree

      iTunes on OS X is really good.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • So what percentage are you?

      Are most of the iDevice users OSX or Windows?
      since you're the it guy you should know right off.
      I use to actually think that meant IT until reading some of your comments.
      thekman58
  • Wrong

    iTunes has to go. Period. Why is it you need an app on your computer in order to easily organize music on your phone/tablet? Why do you need an app on your computer to transfer movies, songs, etc. to your phone/tablet? Both of these tasks can happen by simply plugging your Android device into your computer and it becomes a mass storage device. Then simply drag and drop your music, movies, etc., using your favorite file browser.

    As an IT Tech Support worker in our enterprise, I see it far too often where iTunes is the reason a field sales person's laptop performance is brought to its knees.
    benched42
    • Why would I want that?

      Why would I want to spend time "organizing" my library when I can simply put it all into iTunes, have it organize by however I want, set up playlists, and then pick which I want to sync to my device.

      I have a 20GB "Smart playlist" that syncs various things to my phone at will. Keeps things fresh. How can I easily do that with Android? Oh that's right, I need an app like iSyncr.

      I don't get this circle-jerk for mass storage devices. I've tried it and it's a horrible way to manage media on your device.
      itguy10
      • What if

        they de-coupled iTunes from the store and left you with the media player/library part?
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Re: left you with the media player/library part

          This is primarily what iTunes on PC/Mac is. A library management tool. Well, a tool with hooks into the online store, of course. Also integrated with the functionality to sync with iOS devices etc.

          Then you have to remember, that this whole media stuff is linked with very serious licensing agreements and that there must be way for Apple to prove to licensors that their "rights" are taken care of on the authorized computers. This is primarily what iTunes does.
          danbi
          • It seems to me

            The IT guys always discount the licensing agreements. This is a BIG difference between iTunes where there is both ownership, rental and streaming simultaneously, in addition to any personal videos the user adds to the mix vs. something like Netflix which is streaming only.
            oncall
          • that's it exactly

            Users want simplicity, ease of access, and reasonable sharing between devices and friends. The RIAA and MPAA want you to pay every time you sing happy birthday or have the tv on in the background of your kids birthday video you post to Facebook.
            krossbow